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We have had several customers ask this question regarding protecting their asphalt surface.

What do you do to fix the oil spot damage to asphalt in parking stalls?

The answer to the question really depends upon the extent of the asphalt damage. Some options may not be available to you since the extent of the damage caused by oil can be extensive. Left untreated however can lead to softening of the asphalt section and in cases of older asphalt extensive deterioration.

Initial Damage Caused by Oil Spots in the Asphalt

The First Stage of Oil Spot Damage in Asphalt

Example #1: You are considering sealcoating your parking lot and have a few oil spots that have stained the surface but have not penetrated the surface of the asphalt. In this case the sealcoat material will not adhere properly to the oil stained asphalt. You will want to thoroughly prepare the asphalt and clean the damage. First option is to burn the oil and scrape off the oil. This can be accomplished with a propane torch and a floor scraper. You will want to heat up the asphalt just enough to soften the oil but not damage the asphalt. It may take several times before the desired result is achieved. Then apply an oil sealant product to the surface of the oil stained area. Oil sealants allow the sealcoat to bond to the oil stained surface. You may want to test a small area to ensure that the material adhering properly before continuing the remainder of the sealcoating project. Cost impact: minimal since it would be considered an additional preparation for your sealcoating application.

Moderate Damage to Asphalt Caused by Oil Spots

Moderate Damage Showing Exposed Surface from Oil Spots

Example #2: The oil spot has created minimal surface damage to the top layer of the paving surface. It may be experiencing raveling, which is a loss of aggregates, and the paving is exposed or possibly forming a small depression. You often see this at gas stations where the edge of a vehicle may extend past the concrete fuel pad. I would first consider heating up, as we did in the above example, the section to burn off the excess oil and applying a ss1h emulsion and resufacing the location with hot mix asphalt. The thickness of your resurface may be dependent upon of the depth of the damage. In the northeast and Canada, I have talked with paving contractors that are now using infrared heater to repair this type of damage also. I have watched several videos of contractors use the infrared method and I do see the benefits they describe but in our area of the country contractors have not adopted this method.  Cost impact: medium since this is the type of repair will usually require an asphalt patch crew to complete this type of repair.

Severely Damaged Oil Spot in Asphalt

Severely Damaged Oil Spot in Asphalt

Example #3: You have extensive damage and deterioration. The oil stained area is causing extensive damage and deterioration of the pavement section or a newer surface is now exhibiting softening of the paving section. You have about (2) options to consider. One would be to sawcut, remove the affected area to the full depth of the paving section and replace. This method would allow you to remove all the affected paving area and ensure that the oil spot is gone forever.  Cost Impact:Most expensive option but may be cost effective if performed in conjunction with other asphalt site repairs. Second you may consider using a small cold planer grinder and milling away the top 1.5 to 2 inches of existing material. Cleaning the affected area, applying an ss1h tack coat and resurfacing with hot mix asphalt concrete. This method is very effective in removing the oil affected area and is much less expensive than removal and replacement. Cost impact: Higher than normal resurface but can be extremely cost effective when performed

Whichever method you choose it is best to remember that oil spots left untreated will continue to erode and damage your asphalt paving surface. These areas can also be a potential liability as oil spots are slippery when wet or dry. As always preventative maintenance will prolong the life of your asphalt surface. Protect your assets.

I always recommend that you have a contractor visit your site and provide an estimate and detailed explanation of how he or she intends to repair the oil spot. Too often consumers are lead to believe that the asphalt paving contractor will follow the “industry standards”.

For more information about Oil Sealers here are a couple of links that may be of interest.

About Century Paving:

Century Paving is a general engineering contractor specializing in asphalt and concrete maintenance and repair. We offer a complete line of services to support your maintenance needs. Century Paving is based in Southern California and has a sister office in Northern California. Century Paving was established in 1974 and has successfully completed over 10,000 projects both large and small. Our staff and crews focus on quality work at a reasonable price.

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